Uccello’s Vineyard

Samson Kambalu


Book, 441 KB, 258 p, language: English, publisher: Appleluck London, ISBN: B009Z48N2Y.

Literary synopsis

Uccello's Vineyard is a fictive narrative about photography and art set in Medieval Europe, during the turbulent times of the Reformation and the High Renaissance. At the turn of the 16th century, Uccello, a Franciscan monk in Arezzo, Italy, discovers the secret of sun painting (photography) and sends shock waves through the Roman art world. Fearing that photography might undermine the authority of the Church as the printing press was already doing, Pope Alexander VI bans the 'diabolical' art throughout Christendom. What he does not manage to contain, however, is a backlash against classical representational painting among the artisans, in favour of a return to the spiritual values and directness of early Christian art. Primitivism, as the new style is called, acts as a catalyst for the religious and social revolutions that spread throughout Europe, spearheaded by Martin Luther in Germany and complicated by the rise of the Anabaptist libertine kingdom in Munster.

Uccello's Vineyard is a playful and inventive exploration of art as a parable of various conflicting religious beliefs and ideals, and invites a re-examination of a phenomenon that has since the 15th century been increasingly regarded as an expression of secular values.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The novel is at the centre of Samson Kambalu’s practice. His writing influences his studio practice and his studio practise influences his writing. The video stills included here (Captain, 2012; 1876 (On the Penny Farthing), 2012; Two Mushroom Clouds, 2012) are from a series of site specific performances (rants) inspired by the subversive antics of a 17th century antinomian religious sect, The Ranters, which also feature in Uccello’s Vineyard as prototype avant-garde artists. Uccello's Vineyard is only available in Kindle.

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